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Family Is Not Always Blood

I attended Equality Texas’ Transgender Leadership Institute #TLi2 this weekend in Dallas with 47 other people, both trans and cis allies.

By Melissa Ballard

It was truly a wonderful and eye opening experience. The assortment of people there was amazing; representatives from across the state of all ages, races, cultures, and backgrounds. We are all the future of the trans community.

“ALTHOUGH I HAVE BECOME ACTIVE WITH MANY OTHER GROUPS OUTSIDE OF OUR PARENTS’ GROUP, I REALIZED I WAS STILL VERY MUCH INSIDE A BUBBLE.”

Since my child told us he was transgender, it has been a focus of mine to be visible and involved within the community. Although I have become active with many other groups outside of our parents’ group, I realized I was still very much inside a bubble. Listening to stories told by trans people of color, the struggles of trans youth being turned out by family and the general discrimination those within the community face daily made me realize I have more to do. I have such privilege being a white upper middle woman. Privilege that I used to not understand but want to make better use of, for the LGBT community.

While sharing in mixed spaces, we do not always know how we might have affected someone, and may have unintentionally harmed them. My heart is breaking in ways I never imagined. I do not understand a parent who would ever turn away their child for any reason. Sharing stories of love and acceptance is how we parents want to show the trans community that they are loved. Never had I thought that this would be a trigger to those that have lost their families just for being their true self. I am crushed to think that trying to show unconditional love has ever hurt anyone.

“I TRY TO MAKE MYSELF AVAILABLE TO YOUTHS THAT DO NOT HAVE ACCEPTING PARENTS AND WANT THEM TO FEEL WELCOME IN MY PRESENCE.”

While we may never be able to understand another person’s pain, we can seek ways to help them work through it if they are willing. I try to make myself available to youths that do not have accepting parents and want them to feel welcome in my presence. That is a space I can provide now, and my door is open for those in need. After a weekend spending time with some wonderful people, our group’s moms have now adopted many new kids (even some older than us!) and I feel honored to be considered a surrogate momma to them.

#transfamily #translife #transyouth

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